The New York bill to ban the shark fin trade, A.7707a/S.6431, missed its chance to pass into law this year. The bill appeared headed for approval, enjoying strong bi-partisan support, but the legislative session came to an end on June 21, 2012 before the Senate could bring it to a vote.
On June 20, The New York Assemby passed A.7707c, the bill to ban the shark fin trade, with an overwhelming 141 to 1 vote. We are deeply thankful for the leadership of Assembly Member Alan Maisel of Brooklyn for sponsoring the bill and taking up the fight before anyone else in the New York legislature, and the early co-sponsors, Assemby Memebers Grace Meng of Queens and Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan.
On June 5th, the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee voted 13 to 1 in support of the companion bill, S.6431, and there was strong support for passage in the Senate. Unfortunately, the New York legislative session ended without a floor vote, as so many bills compete for exposure, especially during these last days. We thank Senator Mark Grisanti for sponsoring the bill in the Senate.
Obviously, we are very disappointed that the bill did not complete its path this year. We do hope that passing the bill will be easier next year because so much work has been done to educate the public and the legislature and a bill has already been ammeded to win broad support.
We thank the Shark Savers' supporters in New York and those of our NGO coalition partners who placed phone calls and emails and traveled to Albany to speak with their representatives.
The bill didn’t make it through its earlier vote by the Environmental Conservation Committee without ammendments, which Shark Savers argued against. These ammendments added exemptions to the bill for all rays, for spiny and smooth dogfish sharks, as well as for sharks legally caught by recreational fishermen. It should be noted that current law prohibits recreational fishermen from selling their catch or their fins, so that particular exemption would not have had an impact on the effectiveness of the bill. Despite these exemptions the bill would have still addressed much of the shark fin trade in New York State.
The shark fin trade is by far the leading reason why shark populations are being decimated in worldwide oceans. Sharks, as apex predators, are critical to maintaining ecological balance in the oceans and their loss can have devastating impacts on ocean health and fisheries.
New York should not be a part of this destructive trade and should join Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington State, Guam and CNMI in passing a ban on shark fins. The Illinois legislature passed a bill this Spring and it is now waiting for signature by the governor. We hope that New York will act quickly in 2012 to become the first state on the East Coast to ban the shark fin trade.
Thank you again for all your support in these efforts!